China's economic growth slowed to 6.9 percent in the third quarter, marking the weakest quarterly expansion since the first quarter of 2009, official data showed Monday.
The world's second-largest economy has been struggling with falling exports amid weaker global demand and a lackluster property market at home.
The third-quarter figure, released by China's National Bureau of Statistics, was lower than the second quarter's 7 percent growth and dimmed prospects about China's 2015 growth target of "around 7 percent."
This year, China's communist government has introduced a series of measures to shore up the falling economy, including cutting interest rates and reducing the value of the yuan.
"In the first three quarters of 2015, as the recovery of the world economy was weaker than expected, China was facing increasing downward pressure of domestic economic development," the Chinese statistics bureau said in a statement.
Despite the Chinese economy weakening faster than expected, the Chinese statistics bureau said the economic growth is still "within the proper range."
"As a whole, the good momentum of steady growth did not change in spite of the slight slowdown in the third quarter of 2015," it said. "The national economy was still running within the proper range, structural adjustments were accelerating, and new momentum was building.
"However, we must be aware that internal and external conditions are complicated and downward pressure for economic development still exists," it said.
Earlier this month, the International Monetary Fund cut its growth forecast for China's economy to 6.8 percent this year and 6.3 percent next year.
China is trying to transform its export-oriented economy into a consumption-led one.
A state-run Chinese newspaper reported on Monday that Chinese economists proposed a target of 6.5 percent growth starting in 2016 for five years as part of economic transformation efforts.
The idea of slower economic growth is being discussed ahead of an annual meeting of top leaders later this month, the paper reported.
"Some economists even see short periods of 6 percent growth as tolerable," the report said. (Yonhap)